Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pashtuns and Blogging: Part 1 - 5 reasons why Pashtuns need to blog

VOA (Voice of America), Pashto, Deewa Radio recently started a series on blogging among Pashtuns, discussing reasons for why we should blog, what kinds of challenges bloggers face, what we think they should write about, what they write about, etc. And so this blog post is both to thank VOA for starting such an important program, especially considering how wide their audience is, and to encourage other Pashtuns to start blogging if they do not already. In this part, I'll only discuss some of the reasons why Pashtuns need to blog and why we need more Pashtun bloggers.

Why Blog?

There are several important reasons why people, but especially Pashtuns, should blog.

1. Today, Pashtuns are one of the main centers of the world. The spotlight is often on us because we're apparently (according to everyone!) backward, barbaric, violent, extremist people. One of the reasons why this is so widely accepted in the media and so believed is that, especially in the Western world, there's currently an invisible call for self-hatred, presenting yourself as a victim of your religion/culture/society, sort of calling out for help to be saved--which typically means getting attention from the Media. The media will then present you to the world as a victim-turned-hero. We see this all over the world, with prime examples like Salman Rushdie and Ayan Hirsi Ali.

Need a reason to blog? Look around you.
So the world currently likes narratives of self-hate and victims-of-ones-own-culture-turned-heroes. These are stories that reaffirm America's and the West's assumptions and expectation of the perceived barbarity of Muslims and everything Islam. And that's one reason why it's really easy for the media to both believe and highlight anything negative about Pashtuns, since we're already in the news all the time anyway for one thing or another (presently because of America's invasion of Afghanistan; Osama Bin Laden; the Taliban; drones; Malala gula).

2. And that's precisely why we need Pashtuns to pain the reality for the world -- we have to do something about the generalizations made about us, the many lies that are told about us (some things out there are true, but it's still important to remind people not to generalize). What are our lives really like, regardless of where we are located? What are our views on religion and culture and society and women and men and other genders really like? What do we really think about the drones and the Pakistani army operation in Waziristan? What kinds of problems do we really face?

3. Pashtuns in the West (or just among the diaspora anywhere, really) are then even more privileged, in numerous ways: many of us are generally "stuck" in two cultures, sort of lying in-between cultures and generations and attitudes, often conflicting, because our parents/elders expect one of thing us and our peers expect something different. These peers don't have to be actual peers, but they can represent the society as a whole, the society in which we are currently living. Many of us live two lives: we're one way inside our homes and different outside of our homes. This may include the languages we speak--e.g., Pashto/Dari inside the home, English outside the home. We may also wear western clothing outside the home but Pashtun (Desi/Afghan) clothing inside. And/or perhaps we are less talkative or open with our family/parents/elders but completely opposite with non-family members outside the home.

This is very important. For many of us, as immigrants--whether first generation or fifth--many of our problems are not shared with us by fellow Pashtuns who are in Pashtunkhwa and Afghanistan. They might not even be shared by Pashtuns in Karachi, although they, too, have many issues that need to be acknowledged. But we're all aware of ethnic conflicts in Karachi - yet, how many Pashtuns out there talk about this? All this stuff we hear from the media about what's going on in Afghanistan, how do we know how accurate it is, if at all? What about the Pashtuns inside Afghanistan themselves? It certainly is untrue that "none" of them have access to the Interent and hence blogging, so that's not the issue.

4. Having said the above, I can now point out that people "back home" tend to think that Pashtuns in the West are, I don't know, in heaven or something. That we have no problems, money falls instead of water when it rains (i.e., that we're all rich and that earning money doesn't require hard work! And this is sooo untrue!), and so on. They also have a lot of misconceptions about us, especially us females--such as how "bad" we go if we're raised in the West. One day soon, I'm going to fulfill my promise of writing about the misconceptions about Pashtun women raised in the West. But in the meantime, let's finish talking about Pashtuns and blogging first. So let's start talking about the problems we face as "Western" Pashtuns. Are we really as well off as folks think we are, or is that just a long-lost dream of theirs? Do they know what we go through as immigrants, at least our parents and grandparents who came here as immigrants, and what it feels like to be strangers and foreigners--or "aliens," as America calls us--in a land where no one understands us, in a land where we become nothing when we were everything in our villages back home? Well, let's talk about these issues. Maybe some of us really excellently off, but not all of us. Whatever the case, let's start writing about these issues.

5. People tell me I must have so many stories to tell.  And I do. And I think it's only because I'm Pashtun (living in America, on top of that). Everything I think, do, believe, expect, want, dream of, hope for is different from the "norm" that we all think we're all supposed to uphold. I assure you, people want to hear that kind of stuff, these kinds of stories. Academically, this is problematic because it just consistently marks us as an "other," as "different," as "exotic," as "fascinating" - but having a different viewpoint, a different voice can also be very valuable: it challenges the normative, the popular, the possibly generalized and the possibly inaccurate narrative about us--about you, about me, about the Pashtuns you interact with, about the Pashtuns you dream we'd become one day.

So, fellow Pashtuns, let's stop relying on news all the time and let's start telling our own stories. Let's be the writers of our own histories. Let's tell it like it is and stop letting the media control narratives about us.

Let's tell OUR history ourselves. Let's stop relying on others to tell it for us, especially when a non-Pashtun version of our history is not going to consider our perspectives in the first place.

I know we're a "private" people, but remember that blogging doesn't mean you talk about your personal business in your blogs. That's a personal choice, but it's not a requirement. You can talk about what you think needs to be talk about, such as what's wrong with the world according to you, what is missing in your society or country or the world according to you and how that problem can be fixed, or just your comments on a certain article or viewpoint or political figure--or politics, economics, society, religion, whatever you want. If you need ideas, there are plenty out there. But just start blogging, and see how far you go with it.

We Pashtuns have been silent enough for a while now. But today's circumstances are such that we can no longer afford to be silent. We all have stories to tell us, all of us are

Reminder: how to start a blog
- go to any of the following sites:,, and see which of the sites you like best to start a blog on; these are all blogging platforms.
- then open your blog there, select a template from the many options provided, and
- start writing!

Coming up:

FYI: Here's a list of Pashtun bloggers that I've compiled. If you know anyone who blogs and isn't listed here, please feel free to let me know.

1 comment:

  1. we need u to control ur own means of representation. "Each filmic or academic utterance must be analyzed not only in terms of who represents but also in terms of who is being represented for
    what purpose, at which historical moment, for which location, using which strategies, and in what tone of address." ("The Struggle over Representation: Casting, Coalitions, and the Politics of Identification," Late
    Imperial Culture, 173)


Dare to opine :)

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